Conspicuous by his absence at Smackdown this week was new World Heavyweight Champion, Rey Mysterio. I heard he booked the taping off for a holiday. Y’know, the more I hear about Rey backstage, the more I think he’s not quite the passionate wrestler he makes out and this is the latest example. It’s remarkable to me that Rey wasn’t at the taping after winning the title. Even if he did want a holiday, the least he could have done is cut some sort of video promo. It’s as if he doesn’t know or care how important it was to appear on this show! This was acknowledged in the opening segment by Teddy Long and Vickie Guerrero in which they both (even Vickie, which I thought was needless) berated an angry Drew McIntyre (now temporarily without his friend in a high place, Mr. McMahon), but more importantly, told us about the Money in the Bank PPV and how they would be selecting superstars who impress to take part in a Smackdown-only match. Before any of the particiapants are announced then, I thought i’d suggest who i’d book for the Smackdown match: MVP, Christian, Kofi Kingston, Matt Hardy, Drew McIntyre, Dolph Ziggler, Cody Rhodes and Chavo Guerrero.
The first match of the night pitted former World Champion, Jack Swagger against the Big Show. This was a good match, though was cut short to get over the aggressiveness and brutality of Swagger’s actions. Swagger was on top form athletically, and this seemed to raise the Big Show’s game too (surely one of the best giants to have ever wrestled), so that the two engaged in some quality chain-wrestling, as was seen in the way the match ended. The way Swagger applied that ankle lock made him look – apart from like Kurt Angle – more aggressive and ruthless then perhaps his more confident in ring ‘swagger’ has allowed so far. There is no doubt there are deliberate similarities to Angle, but this si no bad thing; Swagger’s size and look will help him pull off that sort of later-WWE Kurt Angle-style role in a very effective way if he chooses to do so.
There then followed one of the best tag matches i’ve seen in a long while, especially for a six man tag, which can easily get messy. MVP, Christian and Kofi Kingston showed great solidarity (a trait that is currently very meaningful in the WWE) against ‘the Gatecrashers,’ Vance Archer and Curt Hawkins, with Dolph Ziggler. I don’t exactly know where this angle is going, but the match was very good. Almost seemless wrestling which told a good story in which the besmurched faces looked for revenge for all the attention-grabbing attacks they have been subject to, and to educate the newbies on how to act in the ring. Their intensity was too much for the heels, and after a good amount of believable near-falls, Christian hit the killswitch on Dolph for the win. As I said earlier, I would like to see 4 of these competitors make the MITB match on PPV, but I have a feeling all 6 are with Archer and Hawkins making up the numbers. I hope not though. Archer and Hawkins making the match would be a waste seen as it’s clear that neither of them would never win it.
When it was announced that Matt Hardy was no longer suspended, it was clear that this match had to live up to the hype. The good news is that it did! There was quite a big fight feel about this, and the actions of both men portreted a great amount of bad feeling, with ring-posts and steps and barriers all being used during the match. A very nice story was told in the throwback reference to when Drew stamped on Hardy’s head on the steel steps. Here, as the match was reaching it’s natural climax, McIntyre set up again for the stomp, but this time, Hardy swept his legs from under him in a bump which looked especially tough. It was a nice refernece which got over the age-old idea of rivals ‘knowing each other very well.’ The actual end of the match was very sudden, which is a bit of a shame, in a match that was otherwise carefully mapped out, but I don’t think it detracts too much from the match. When Hardy got the 1-2-3, I started to wonder where the storyline could possibly go from here. It turns out that McIntyre is being ‘deported’ because his visa has (kayfabe) run out, and he was escorted from the ring, on his way back to Scotland. Striker repeatedly mentioned that McIntyre is entitles to a 90-day stay of deportation and that someone should help him. I imagine then, that at MITB, there will be some sort of match with the surreal stipulation of McIntyre wrestling for his citizenship. As long as it’s not some sort of undignified ‘green card on a pole’ match, I will be ok with it.
Cody Rhodes then came out and cut a promo about how good looking and talented he is. Though charismatic, Cody still has trouble really getting the most from his promos. He did, however, get a lot of heat from this one and had some good lines (“I can almost hear you getting fatter” to a female fan being a personal favourite). One thing I didn’t understand was why he didn’t say or do anything to Matt Striker while he was out there. It would seem obvious given their NXT run-ins. I can’t think of any justification for ignoring it really. Anyway, Cody now wants to be known as “Dashing” Cody Rhodes, which I quite like, partly because it reminds me of new Hall of Famer, Gorgeous George. This marked the start of a new conceitedness that I like in Rhodes, and one that was missing when he was trying to start up that ‘Uncommon Man’ gimmick.
The main event was a no-disqualification match between Kane and CM Punk. With all the build up to it, I worried that Kane would struggle to get over the sheer anger he is meant to be feeling. This wasn’t a problem though, with him absolutely demolishing not only CM Punk, but his whole Straight-Edge Society throughout the arena! He was putting anyone and everyone through tables, no selling most of what aggression came his way and taking on three guys at once, the very sight of a wrestler running on emotion. This was obviously an excercise in punishment, rather than a match, so there is little else to judge, other than to praise the way Kane (and the others) used their environment in this, with Kane even utilising merch stands as weapons. I don’t know where this will go next week. Once Punk managed to run away, questions were asked by the commentators about what this meant for the S.E.S. it’ll be interesting to see if it does, and whether Kane realises (as is surely the case) that Punk is innocent and moves on to another suspect, or whether the S.E.S. further court suspicion by getting violent revenge on Kane. It’s all very intriguing!